Brennan, Thomas J. USMC (Ret.) & Finbarr O’Reilly. Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War. Viking. Aug. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780399562549. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399562563. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR/MILITARY
Though the cause may be different, war correspondents suffer posttraumatic stress disorder at about the same rate as combat veterans. This distinctive collaboration, told in alternating first-person narratives, clarifies what that means. After being injured during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan, marine sergeant Brennan returned home and began anguishing over what he had done and hadn’t done at war. Meanwhile, photographer O’Reilly, suffering from survival guilt after having seen colleagues die, worried about the people he had photographed at their neediest moments without intervening. Both men overcame these emotional burdens through the strength of their friendship.
Hemon, Aleksandar. Behind the Glass Wall: Inside the United Nations. Sean McDonald: Farrar. Aug. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780374110239. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374714277. POLITICAL SCIENCE
MacArthur fellow Hemon, the author of multiple National Book Critics Circle Award nominees like The Lazarus Project, has been unhappy with the performance of the UN Protection Forces during the Bosnian wars that shattered his homeland. So what is he doing writing about the UN? In fact, he was the UN’s first writer in residence, and he declares that “without the UN, without the very idea of it, the crimes against Bosnians couldn’t be perceived as crimes against all humanity.” Rescheduled from May 2015 and ripe for discussion.
Lee, Jeffrey. God’s Wolf: The Life of the Most Notorious of All Crusaders, Scourge of Saladin. Norton. Aug. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780393609691. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393609707. HISTORY
An ordinary foot soldier who became prince of Antioch, Reynald de Chatillon was the most savage of crusaders and remains a hated figure in Islamic history; in a 2010 terrorist plot, al-Qaeda hid a bomb in a FedEx shipment addressed to him. He’s probably best known to generalists from Ridley Scott’s 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven. Now, an award-winning broadcast journalist who’s worked for the BBC tells the story of Chatillon’s deeply controversial life, acknowledging his brutality while showing him to be an effective statesman. Not just for the informed; the Sunday Times (UK) highlighted the “blockbuster sensibility.”
Markel, Howard. The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek. Pantheon. Aug. 2017. 512p. ISBN 9780307907271. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780307907288. Downloadable: Random Audio. BIOGRAPHY/BUSINESS
George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and author most recently of An Anatomy of Addiction, Markel has the wherewithal to tell us about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the world-famous Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1876. He also profiles the doctor’s younger brother, Will, who in 1906 founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company after the two brothers experimented with healthful blends of grain called corn flakes, shredded wheat, puffed rice, and a few other names you’ll recognize. The result: endless lawsuits, as John saw the cereals not as commercial but as a social good. Who says medical history can’t be fun?
Rachlin, Benjamin. Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption. Little, Brown. Aug. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780316311496. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316311489. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316501262. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. TRUE CRIME
Rachlin chronicles both the wrongful imprisonment of Willie J. Grimes after a 1987 rape in North Carolina and the founding of North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only organization in the country that can declare a person legally innocent. Mistaken identification, sloppy evidence gathering, and suspect testimony led to the conviction of Grimes, a quiet man working two jobs, and his longtime-coming exoneration resulted from the unshakable belief in his innocence of supporters including Christine Mumma, who pushed for the commission’s creation. With a 40,000-copy first printing; Rachlin has had work featured in the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Time, and more.